MOBILE -- Four autographing-seeking fans charged back from the parking lot where they had just finished chasing Dolphins vice president Bill Parcells outside Ladd Peebles Stadium after Monday's Senior Bowl practice.
Each one wore a bigger smile than the next.
Did he sign? said a person standing nearby.
Yup! said the first fan, who was carrying a football with white ink scribbled across it. ``I broke him down!''
No doubt about it, Parcells' presence was noticed by many Monday in Mobile, where scouts, coaches and agents began to converge for the annual weeklong evaluations of this year's college seniors.
During the afternoon workout, Parcells sat in the bleachers next to Dolphins coach Tony Sparano. General manager Jeff Ireland sat directly behind them, completing a rare public appearance of the Tuna Trifecta.
So why did Parcells, who didn't travel to any of the Dolphins' road games this season and made only one appearance at the Senior Bowl during his four years with the Dallas Cowboys, decide to make the trip? Well, no surprise here: He wasn't willing to say.
I don't talk, Parcells said in a light-hearted manner when approached Monday. He then turned toward Sparano and pointed his finger.
He does the talking.
It still isn't a secret that Parcells will be watching a number of potential prospects worth drafting with the Dolphins' 25th overall pick in the first round of this year's NFL Draft.
And don't expect Miami's brass to watch only the coveted prospects this week. As the team proved Monday by signing Canadian Football League star Cameron Wake to a four-year contract, the best players aren't always the ones with the most hype.
Wake, who went undrafted out of Penn State in 2005, wasn't even invited to the Senior Bowl. Instead, he settled for the CFL's British Columbia Lions, where he has made a massive mark that included two Defensive Player of the Year awards.
Over the past two seasons, after getting snubbed by the NFL despite running a 4.49 in the 40-yard dash at his Pro Day at Penn State, Wake has amassed an astounding 39 sacks.
Asked why he wasn't drafted, Wake said Monday,
If I could look into that crystal ball, that's the first question I'd ask.
Now he will receive guaranteed money of nearly $1 million with a contract worth nearly $3.6 million.
Wake's addition -- he will play outside linebacker in the Dolphins' 3-4 system -- fills a considerable need for pass-rushing help, but it doesn't satisfy all of the other voids.
Two of those needs -- depth at guard and help in the secondary -- could be addressed with the crop of players at the Senior Bowl.
Interviews between NFL teams and the draft prospects began Monday night and will continue throughout the week.
It is looking less and less likely that linebacker Channing Crowder will return to the Dolphins next season -- even though Miami's brass still wants him back and even though he still wants to come back. The two sides are still far off when it comes to agreeing on Crowder's financial worth, a gap that will need to be bridged significantly for Crowder to resist the desire to test the open market.